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“One of the worst of my 120+ hotel reviews” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Heritance Kandalama

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Heritance Kandalama
4.5 of 5 Hotel   |   PO Box 11, Dambulla, Sri Lanka   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 12 Hotels in Dambulla
St. Paul-de-Vence
Top Contributor
113 reviews 113 reviews
74 hotel reviews
Reviews in 77 cities Reviews in 77 cities
167 helpful votes 167 helpful votes
“One of the worst of my 120+ hotel reviews”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 4, 2011

We stayed here for two of our four nights in Sri Lanka as part of our visit to the Cultural Triangle. They provided free accommodation for our guide/driver.

We had been expecting a quality and tranquil experience, as many TA reviews had been positive, and certainly the price was high by Sri Lankan standards.

We arrived on a Sunday afternoon to be greeted by loud music being played in the communal area near the main swimming pool. The receptionist commented “we have families that come out from Colombo for the day to use the facilities and ‘enjoy’ the entertainment”. Together with the noise of kids around the pool, it certainly drowned out the sounds of wildlife that we had been looking forward to.

Our room was a long walk away, which perhaps was a blessing in disguise. It had a balcony, which we shared with monkeys in the morning. In the main, the room was fine, although rather dark. However, we did not expect a large Jacuzzi in the bathroom of this so-called “Eco friendly” hotel – a contradiction in terms!

We went to the bar for a drink. This was in the midst of the Cricket World Cup, and the walls had been tackily ‘decorated’ with large paper flags of the participating countries, with cricket pads on either side of the bar. The loud TV cricket commentary dominated the scene here. The cocktails we ordered were badly mixed.

Then on to dinner. The buffet restaurant was packed with large European tour groups on both evenings. We estimated that private guests amounted to less than 10% of the diners. The food was of the blandest “to suit western palates” cuisine. Service, though, was attentive.

On checking out, we were competing for porters with 3-4 coach loads of package deal guests, so we carried our own cases about 300 metres to the reception, having been hassled by a persistent “need to check the mini bar” person as we were getting ready.

All in all, we really did not enjoy our stay here. The location was nice enough, we would have enjoyed the environment and abounding wildlife – but sadly the atmosphere was not convivial. We also met a couple at our next hotel, whose opinions were similar to ours about their stay here. Of our 120+ hotel reviews in TA, this was one of the worst.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Manchester, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2011

My partner and I were looking for somewhere different to get married. We came upon the Heritance Kandalama - what a superb hotel and setting! They really didn't let us down, we had the most amazing wedding and honeymoon! The staff made our time there magical. We were also upgraded to a suite of rooms on our wedding night which was wonderful. I cannot sing their praises enough and we can't wait to visit again.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Waterford
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2011

This hotel is a real treat! It's such an experience. The archeticure alone is just spectular. The hotel is built into the rock, without damanging any part of it. It's really beautiful, and a real sence of nature meets luxury. We stayed in the Heritance Kandalama for 3 nights as part of our honeymoon trip, and it was a real high point. Even the wet weather didnt put a dampner on it!

The rooms are lovely, watch the monkeys trying to steal your fruit! The "in the jungle" style bathrooms were also well designed. All the staff were extremely helpful and the food was just incredible. Really tasty and a different cultural theme to the dinner buffet each night. Lots and lots of choice.

The only minor quibble we had was that they were the only hotel over our 3 week trip to forget/not to mark that we were a honeymoon couple, however that aside, we had a wonderful time there, and I would highly recommend it. Yes is it a long trip to get there, it is way off the beaten track, but it's well worth it. What an experience!

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Knokke, Belgium
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2011

We really enjoyed our stay at the Kandelama. Wonderful hotel from the architect Geoffrey Bawa. Beautiful room, opening up to nature with monkeys playing in front of our room window. Five star service, great food.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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London, United Kingdom
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2011

I dont want to go on about this hotel but I think I could write a book. Be it the giant iguana that greated us on the way up the hotel entrance or the cheeky monkeys, the place was a mecca for wildlife and the birds singing was the perfect backdrop to a heavenly stay. We were uprgraded on arrival and treated like royalty. The buffet was amazing if not dangerous for the waistline. The staff were super-friendly and the place, although fully occupied, always seemed somewhat empty and spacious - perfect for relaxation.

The food and drink were reasonably priced considering the star quality of this hotel. Although a distance from Colombo, it was worth every second of the journey (travel by jeep if possible). Perfectly placed for Gigariya Rock Fortress and Dambulla Caves as well as numerous elephant and wildlife safaris!

This was my second trip and I will be sure to come back!

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Sydney, Australia
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2011

I spent 3 nights here in February 2011. My room was very far away from the main areas, which didnt bother me, but would have upset some people. The architecture is superb and worth a visit just for that, and the surrounding bird and animal life. I had a good boat ride on the lake and the boatman was pretty good at identifying birds. The dining room was enormous, and the staff were very efficient..even snatched away my plates and drinking glass before I had finished on numerous occasions, which made me feel rushed and annoyed. They seemed bored and unsmiling on the whole. It was all buffet and a huge selection. Drinks were exorbitant as in most places in Sri Lanka. Swimming pools lovely. I preferred the highest one, as it was more private. The most commonly used one didnt have enough lounges to sit on. I couldnt fault this hotel, but very impersonal for a solo traveller.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Perth, Australia
Top Contributor
124 reviews 124 reviews
73 hotel reviews
Reviews in 71 cities Reviews in 71 cities
181 helpful votes 181 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2011

A Geoffrey Bawa designed hotel which has had many write-ups so I had to see how great it was.
The hotel is out of Dambulla, along a dirt track that appears to be graded daily. The hotel is against a rock/cliff and the rooms face outwards onto a valley and a huge lake. Sunset was spectacular.
We took the luxury option and the room was modern, spacious and upmarket. Breakfast was good. Swimming pool was beautiful and butted onto the lake. Eagles and kites hovered overhead and did bomb-drops into the lake to collect fish. We could have spent all day at the pool just watching them. Pool guys were excellent but staff doing snacks and drinks need more direction.
Monkeys visited our balcony frequently and at dusk there were bats darting around.
It was a great base from which to visit the cultural triangle. Our driver spotted (on separate occasions) three mongoose on the dirt track up to the hotel. And there are a multitude of little colourful birds to watch in the bushes.
Negatives were: Wifi was available at a cost at the business centre and the hotel shop was not inviting - it appeared to be too upmarket.
Staff were friendly and had huge smiles - until checkout. The checkout procedure was in a separate room at the back of reception and manned by two men. No smiles and not even a thank you. A very sad ending to an otherwise beautiful experience.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Heritance Kandalama

Address: PO Box 11, Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Location: Sri Lanka > Central Province > Dambulla
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Family Hotel in Dambulla
#1 Spa Hotel in Dambulla
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Heritance Kandalama 4.5*
Number of rooms: 152
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Heritance Kandalama is shaped like the outspread wings of a bird, following the line of the cliff from which it seems to emerge. The hotel is a staggering 1km from end to end, and rises up seven floors, yet appears to be a perfectly natural extension of the mountainside. The flat roof and timber pillars support a screen of vegetation that attracts local wildlife. The abundance of real-life animals around the hotel is complemented by wonderful large-scale sculptures within it. A metal owl is suspended outside the main restaurant; wooden elephants inhabit the lounge; a stone cobra uncoils along the terrace overlooking the infinity pool. However, while focusing on highlighting its enchanting natural surroundings, our luxury resort in Sri Lanka gives priority to providing its guests with the finest comforts and service. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kandalama Hotel Sri Lanka
Hotel Heritance Kandalama
Heritance Kandalama Dambulla
Kandalama Hotel Dambulla

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